Friday, 31 May 2013

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It is about the books that you are adding to your shelves.



* A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks

* Suspicious by Heather Graham

* The Stars Shine Down by Sidney Sheldon

* A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

* The Sky is Falling by Sidney Sheldon

* Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

* Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

* Hercule Poirot: The Complete Short Stories by Agatha Christie (I was so excited to find this book!)



I didn't read a lot in May. However, I liked all the books that I read in May, and the most recent that I read, Emma by Jane Austen, has perhaps become one of my favorite novels.

In May 2013, I reviewed the following books in my blog:

The Godfather by Mario Puzo (Rating: 5 out of 5) 

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (Rating: 3 out of 5)

Silas Marner by George Eliot (Rating: 4 out of 5)

The Clocks by Agatha Christie (Rating: 3 out of 5)

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks (Rating: 4 out of 5) 

Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie (Rating: 4 out of 5)

Emma by Jane Austen (Rating: 5 out of 5)

Thursday, 30 May 2013

''Emma''- Book review

Author: Jane Austen
Published: 1815

Genres: Novel, Romance

Rating: 5 out of 5


I had been thinking of reading Jane Austen's Emma  since 2010, but never quite started reading it. This vacation, however, I firmly decided to read it, and so have I; I've just finished reading it. And the very first thing I'd like to say that I not only LOVED Emma, but I suppose it will absolutely become one of my favorite novels.

Emma started as a light, rather comedic read, but as it progressed, it became very deep and had excellent characterization, dialogues, and story.

In Jane Austen novels, we meet very memorable heroines, for example, the headstrong Elizabeth Bennet and the timid Anne Elliot. In Emma, our heroine is Emma Woodhouse, a ''handsome, clever and rich'' young woman. The novel starts as Emma's governess, Miss Taylor, is married to Mr Weston. Now, Emma thinks that she had contributed to make the feelings between Miss Taylor and Mr Weston stronger, and she thinks that she is quite excellent in matchmaking. And she loves doing it (matchmaking).

Before long, she is acquainted with Harriet Smith, a young boarder at Mrs Goddard's school for girls.  Emma decides that she will educate Harriet and polish her mind, and will make her as lady-like as possible. Emma and Harriet become close friends despite the difference in their social position. Emma thinks that Harriet is a perfect match for Mr Elton, who is the local vicar. Harriet gets a wedding proposal from Robert Martin, a gentlemanly and educated farmer, and though she (Harriet) wants to accept the proposal, Emma makes her deny it. Emma has firmly decided that Harriet must marry Mr Elton.

But how can Emma decide the future of two people? How can Emma completely control the feelings of two people? Things take a different turn, and nothing goes according to Emma's plan. And these wrong decisions and judgements will make Emma remorse and repent in the future; her interference into other people's feelings results negatively...

This is actually a rather short summary; there are MANY wonderful characters in this novel. Mr Knightley, who is a neighbor and brother of Emma's brother-in-law, plays an important role in the novel. He is the only person who can find faults in Emma, and openly disapproves Emma's hobby of matchmaking. Ultimately, he plays a vital role in this novel.

Of course, Emma is a flawed heroine. Her opinion that she is excellent in matchmaking completely backfires at her, and her being extremely decided leads her to misinterpret many things, and ultimately, it is inevitable to feel disapproval of Emma's thoughts and actions at times, but I also, near the end of the novel, felt sympathy the character quite much, especially after she becomes filled with regret and guilt about her bad behavior with Miss Bates and Jane Fairfax. And of course, her quick decision makes her feel guilty at future; but let's not talk about that in detail.

Oh, I haven't even mentioned the important characters in this novel! Well, there is Mr Woodhouse, a tender old man who is always worried about the health of the people he loves; there is Mr Weston, the wonderful man who marries Miss Taylor, Emma's governess; and there is Frank Churcill, Mr Weston's son from a previous marriage. Mr Weston's first wife had died when Frank was little;  and Frank was raised by his uncle and aunt. Now, Frank pays visit to his father and the present Mrs Weston (who had once been Emma's governess), and Emma becomes close with him, and his relation with several of the characters is also an important aspect of the story...

The novel is also humorous at times. For example, Mr Woodhouse's complete dependence and extreme trust for Mr Perry, the local doctor, sometimes seems ridiculous. The talkative Miss Bates also contributes to the funny parts of the novel. 

And then also, Emma is also a quite serious novel. It was quite a light novel at the beginning, but as the story progressed, it became deep and thought-provoking. It is a VERY enjoyable novel, I absolutely loved it. 

5 out of 5

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Really Random Tuesday

Really Random Tuesday is hosted by Suko. It is a way of posting odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of.  

Since I am now having summer vacation, I'm not very busy right now. It's a really relaxing time. And I'm really enjoying the vacation.

Perhaps a week ago, I started reading J. R. R. Tolkien's ''The Hobbit''. Unfortunately, it didn't quite match my taste... I stopped reading it (with regret, because I had really wanted to read it!). Maybe in future, I can try reading it once again.

Right now I'm reading Austen's ''Emma'' and I am thoroughly loving it! Review will be posted soon!

I have nothing else to say right now... so... Happy reading!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

''Murder in Mesopotamia''- Book Review

Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1936

Genres: Crime, Suspense, Mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5


I was pleasantly surprised by Agatha Christie's Murder in Mesopotamia. In fact, I really loved it! Murder in Mesopotamia is an amazing mystery novel (you cannot even guess the solution!), filled with wonderful clues and suspense and mystery and occasional scares, some great characters, and a wonderful solution! 

The novel is set in Iraq. An excavation work is going on in the search of the remains of the ancient Mesopotamian civilization. Dr Leidner is a world-famous archealogist working on this dig. Dr Leidner's wife, Mrs Leidner, has recently been having a bad time... she's being too nervous and scared sometimes, and claims to have seen faces on her window.

To keep Mrs Leidner company and to try to keep her free from stress, a nurse, Amy Leatheran (the narrator of this novel) is appointed. However, the nurse hears rumors that the people working on the excavation (the people live in the same building) are no longer jolly and friendly; rather, something very strange is going on among them, they have lost their past laughs and jokes... rather, the situation among the excavation staff seems overly formal.

Nurse Leatheran, upon arriving there, comes to realize that something is wrong. However, Mrs Leidner takes an instant liking on her. Eventually, Mrs Leidner confides to her about her fears: that she believes that her first husband, whom she believed was dead, wants to kills her because she married another man.

The nurse doesn't think of it too seriously, but the next day, Mrs Leidner is mysteriously found dead.

No stranger could have entered the house because no one noticed any stranger. The murderer seems to have been SOMEONE living in the house...

This one was simply amazing! It was deep and excellently written. I liked how the mystery became deeper and more puzzling. I liked how the suspense was built up strongly. I liked the characters.

Of course, Hercule Poirot was present in this novel! I have read a couple of other Poirot novels, but this one was the most amazing Poirot novel that I've read, as of now.

I liked Nurse Leatheran, a lot. I liked the co-operation between Poirot and the nurse. As the nurse describes, their co-operation became something like that when a doctor and a nurse go over a medical case.

All the characters were quite unique. There were loads of clues, but I really could not even predict how it all happened! The ending simply surprised me! I loved this one. This was a deep and amazing novel.

4 out of 5

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Reading and the rain...

View from the balcony

That's a view from my balcony. There has been bits of rain since the morning, and isn't it amazing to read something great on a rainy morning?

Happy reading! :D

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

''Safe Haven''- Review

Author: Nicholas Sparks
Published: 2010

Genres: Romance, Suspense

Rating: 4 out of 5


I'm not sure how to begin this review because I absolutely LOVED Nicholas Sparks's novel ''Safe Haven''. It was fabulous. Not only does Sparks gives us a wonderful love story, but this time, with ''Safe Haven'', Nicholas Sparks tells us a deep human story, a beautiful story. I am fairly acquainted with Nicholas Sparks's works. I have read ''Dear John'', and have seen the movie versions for ''A Walk to Remember'' and ''The Notebook''. But none of them can be compared with ''Safe Haven''. Safe Haven is AMAZING! 

The novel centers around Katie, a mysterious woman, in her mid-twenties, who has arrived in Southport, North Carolina, and lives an isolated life. She becomes friends with her neighbor, Jo, whom she eventually starts to trust and gradually tells the secret of her past life to her. She has a husband, who physically abused her in a terrible way, and she, therefore, ran away from him and started a new life in Southport. She is afraid all the time that her husband, Kevin, might come after her.

The widowed owner of a local store, Alex, is attracted to the pale and beautiful Katie. Katie becomes close to Alex's children, and soon, she develops a close relationship with Alex, and eventually they fall in love. Katie learns to trust in love once again. Katie tells Alex about her past life, and that she can't marry him because she already has a husband.

Her husband, Kevin, a vicious and extremely unpleasant villain, is still hunting for her...

This novel was just wonderful! With a mixture of love, emotions, human bondage, suspense, thriller, it was plainly amazing and I couldn't put it down! I admired the characters, I admired Sparks's writing style and the subject of this book. I loved the way Sparks developed the emotions in this book.

Sparks talks about a very serious problem in this novel, that is, domestic violence. Katie represents the physically abused women, those helpless women. The courage Katie shows by running away from Kevin is certainly an inspiration! Katie is an excellently developed character, an extremely admirable character. The brave, courageous Katie. Katie, who didn't tolerate the torture inflicted on her. Katie, who bravely ran away and later faced the person who tortured her. This character was simply amazing.

Two other characters I loved were Alex and Jo. Alex, the gentle, goodhearted man, who takes great care of his motherless children. He is a likeable character. And uhh... Jo. I absolutely adored her. Here, I won't discuss much, because I don't want to talk about the novel's surprising twist!!!

Kevin is the antagonist of this novel, the villain. I hated this character. As Katie described, he was INSANE. Nicholas Sparks excellently developed this villain as well.

I loved this lovely, suspenseful, beautiful novel. I loved the characters. I loved the subject matter. I loved the story. Fabulous book!

4 out of 5

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves, hosted by Tynga's reviews, is about the books that you are adding to your shelves.



The Big Four by Agatha Christie

Birthright by Nora Roberts

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien 

Oh, another thing: sorry for not posting for a while! School makes me extremely weary. I'm eagerly waiting for the vacation!


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

''The Clocks''- Book review

Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1963

Genres: Mystery, Crime, Suspense, Thriller

Rating: 3 out of 5


I enjoyed reading Agatha Christie's ''The Clocks''. Yet, I wouldn't say I was fully satisfied because of the lack of clues.

The mystery is built up well yet a very, very few of my guesses matched; I really liked the solution to the problem and couldn't even imagine the story would come to such a point. The book had a very creepy scene (which I'm not describing!!) and some excellently developed characters.

But more of that later. At the beginning of the novel, Miss Martindale, owner of the Cavendish Secretarial Bureau, receives a phone call from a blind woman, Millicent Pebmarsh, to send a typist to her home, asking particularly for the young Sheila Webb. Sheila goes to Miss Pebmaresh's house. The blind woman is not home. Instead, Sheila finds something else: the body of a dead man at the sitting room! And then, Miss Pebmarsh enters the house, and is about to tread on the body...

Terrified after seeing the dead man, Sheila runs screaming out of the house. A passer-by, Colin Lamb, learns about the incident from her, and after seeing the dead man, he phones his friend, Detective Inspector Hardcastle.

Investigation starts. The blind woman, Miss Pebmarsh, denies having made any calls to the Cavendish Secretarial Bureau. On the other hand,  no one seems to identify the dead man. The neighbors deny having seen anything weird on the day of the murder. And another surprising thing is that, there were several clocks in Miss Pebmarsh's house on the day of the murder; and, only two of them shows the correct time, 3 o'clock, and the other four of them shows fifteen minutes past four. And Miss Pebmarsh says, none of these four clocks belong to her. What is the mystery behind these clocks?

In the midst of the confusions about the clocks, identification of the dead man, and neighbors' statements, Colin decides to take help of his friend, the great detective Hercule Poirot, who certainly will help him.

The novel also gives some importance to the works of Colin Lamb. Colin, who is actually a Special Branch agent, is investigating about a spy case. This case is given some significance.

The novel is told in two forms: first person narration by Colin Lamb, and also sometimes third person narration. 

I liked this novel.  I liked the mystery, the suspense. And then, of course, we have two wonderful characters, Colin Lamb and Hercule Poirot, who just make this story amazing. Colin is a wonderful character. It is he, who gives us most of the clues, though there are a very few of them. Actually, this novel has very few clues, and it is only after Poirot explains everything that the matter becomes clear to us! It was indeed a very puzzling story, and the solution was amazing.

As for the characters, they were well developed. I like Hardcastle, Colin, Poirot, Sheila, Miss Pebmarsh, and of course, Geraldine, the intelligent 10-year-old girl with whom Colin converses and who gives quite a few hints about the incident. A great deal of humor is also present.

However, I didn't love this one, because the clues didn't seem to lead somewhere, which is partly interesting, while on the other hand, partly unsatisfactory. There should have been enough clues for the reader to guess something, guess some tidbits, at least. But the clues are not even strong. The solution was simply a bolt from the blue... 

Though I wasn't fully satisfied, I won't say that it was unsatisfactory because it wasn't bad. It is well-written, but the lacking of clues lets the reader suspect nothing, which is, certainly, a drawback. Overall, the novel was decent and likeable.

3 out of 5

Saturday, 11 May 2013

''Silas Marner''- Book Review

Author: George Eliot
Published: 1861

Genres: Novel, Victorian literature

Rating: 4 out of 5


I liked George Eliot's ''Silas Marner''. It was a simple and smooth, pleasant, quite emotional read. The titular character, the protagonist, is a weaver,who is falsely accused of a theft apparently committed by his best friend. After this, he loses his trust on humans- and a few days later, goes away to a village named Raveloe. Living in a stone hut, and weaving all day, he isolates himself, and keeps no communication with people (except, of course, for business purposes). People, meanwhile, have strange superstitions and ideas about him. Living alone, he grows an obsession for the money that he earns, and his life becomes centered on two things- his work and money. He starts hoarding his wealth, and notoriously becomes known as a miser. He becomes detached from the society.

Godfrey Cass is the son of Squire Cass. He has a terrible secret, that he is secretly married to a woman, who is addicted to opium and whom his father will certainly never accept. The only person who knows this secret is Godfrey's brother Dunstan, who blackmails him. Godfrey had lent some of his father's money to Dunstan, who spends it and, to pay it back to his father, Godfrey tells Dunstan to sell his horse. But the horse meets an accidental death- and Dunston, unable to get the money, sneaks into Silas Marner's house and steals all his hidden money.

Silas Marner is devastated seeing his money has disappeared. The money had somewhat been the purpose of his life. People slowly begin taking sympathy on him, and their views about Silas Marner start to improve. A twist comes in the story as Godfrey's wife is found dead in the snow, and Godfrey doesn't admit that it is his wife... Silas Marner finds Godfrey's infant daughter (who had been traveling with her mother), and starts raising her as his own daughter. Godfrey never reveals that the girl is, in fact, his daughter. Silas starts loving the girl, and his life takes a new direction, and he is again united with the society. His adopted daughter brings changes to his isolated lifestyle... bringing new hope and purpose to his life.

This was a relatively short novel and it told a story of isolation, of disappointment, and also gave a portrait of how isolated life can be. Then, a new hope comes in Silas Marner's life... the little child he finds and raises as his own daughter.  I liked the characters. Silas Marner, of course. Nancy Lammeter, Godfrey Cass, Eppie, to name but a few... These characters had an emotional depth. Godfrey's love for Nancy was quite touching. Silas and Eppie's father-daughter relation was wonderful. Yet, most of the characters were not that much well developed because of the fast paced nature (it became really fast paced from the time Eppie grew up) and short length of the novel. 

The novel reminded me of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, because Silas and Eppie had similarities with Jean Valjean and Cossette. 

I really liked reading Silas Marner. It wasn't a great read. But it was very good, really very good and memorable.

4 out of 5


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

''The Mysterious Affair at Styles''- Book Review

Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1920

Genres: Crime, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Rating: 3 out of 5


The Mysterious Affair at Styles is the first novel by the great Agatha Christie- and the novel where she introduced one of her most famous characters, Hercule Poirot. This novel was an enjoyable and appreciable read, but I must say that I didn't think it was an excellent read. I liked it, BUT didn't love it.

The novel is set during the First World War. Captain Hastings arrives at the Styles Court, a manor, upon the invitation of his old friend John Cavendish.  The household consists of John and Lawrence Cavendish's stepmother, Emily Inglethorp, an amiable and generous socialite; John's beautiful wife, Mary; Cynthia, the orphaned daughter of Mrs Inglethorp's friend; Evelyn Howard, Mrs Inglethorp's constant companion; and Alfred Inglethorp, Emily's new husband, a sinister-looking man who is decades younger than her. Everybody of the house is displeased at Mrs Inglethorp for marrying the man. Particularly, Miss Howard thinks that Alfred Inglethorp is a dangerous man, and is after Emily's money, and may even cause harm to dear old Emily. She gets into a quarrel with Mrs Inglethorp about this topic- and then angrily leaves the house. Hastings (who is the narrator) comments that with Miss Howard's departure, a secure feeling has also left the house.

Then early one morning, everybody of the house are shocked to learn that Mrs Inglethorp is very sick. They run into her room, and minutes later, she dies. This shocking tragedy leaves everybody puzzled. How, why, did it happen? The doctors conclude that it was because of poisoning. Hastings asks his detective friend, Hercule Poirot, to investigate the case. Poirot happily agrees. Suspicions go to Mr Inglethorp... But Poirot seems to believe that Alfred Inglethorp is innocent. Questions arise: How was the poison taken to Mrs Inglethorp? On a coffee cup or on cocoa? And the most important question of all: who did it?

This was a book filled with suspense and mystery. The mystery is quite puzzling. But however, I have to admit that I couldn't just suspect somebody (except maybe Mr Inglethorp, whom the characters also had suspected) because it was presented in such a way that it was difficult to suspect anyone. And the story took such sudden turns which make both Hastings and the reader confused (which can make everybody confused, except Poirot, who, until the ending, kept silently and cleverly working on the mystery). The clues didn't solve much. It was only the ending which made me really understand what really had happened. But I also have to say that I thought that the solution was not that satisfying. The overall novel was pleasant, enjoyable, yet not as suspenseful as to make this novel excellent. The overall novel wasn't confusing, rather the story was simple and really unpredictable.

Overall, it is a good mystery novel, the mystery is quite puzzling, and I'd recommend it. 

3 out of 5

Sunday, 5 May 2013

''The Godfather''- Book review

Author: Mario Puzo
Published: 1969

Genres: Novel, Crime, Mystery

Rating: 5 out of 5


Mario Puzo's ''The Godfather'' gives a vivid portrait of a Sicilian Mafia family, the family structure, and the relations of the families with each other, the unrest and enmity that rises among the families. ''The Godfather'' is an engrossing and powerful novel about this subject matter. It is a book to be read with concentration. It took me days to finish reading this book because I took time to understand all the matters discussed in the novel. It was a novel that was engrossing and slightly difficult to read at the same time; difficult, because the subject matter is to be understood, the background of the characters needs to be understood to form a complete portrait of them (i.e., the characters).

Don Vito Corleone is the head of the powerful Corleone family. His influence, his power, has earned him respect from all around. At the same time, despite of the things he does, he is a ''reasonable'', a calm man. The book starts with descriptions of several people who have been wronged or who are in trouble, and for justice and solution for their problems, they think that they should see Don Corleone. At the wedding party of the Don's daughter Connie, these men come to the Don with requests and Don promises to give them justice. His godson, famous singer/actor Johnny Fontane, desperately wants a role in a film, and the producer violently is refusing to give the role to him. However, the Don makes the producer agree in such a way that we come to realize how violent the Don is.

The Don has three sons: hot-tempered Santino  (Sonny), timid and irresponsible Frederico (Fredo), and the charming Michael (Mike), who doesn't want to get himself involved with the family business. The peaceful environment is destroyed, and things start to change when the Don refuses to get involved in a drug business, and an attempt is then made to murder him, and unrest and turmoil rises among the families, leading to deaths of family members, mistrusts, and betrayals, and discoveries. 

The book had a power in it. Along with the vivid descriptions of the background of Mafia, Mafia terms, family structure, it had backgrounds of even some of the minor characters, which enables the reader to form a vivid and clear portrait about the characters. Mario Puzo developed the characters excellently. Many of the characters got unexpected significance. My favorite characters from the book are quite a few: Michael, Kay, Hagen, Johnny, Lucy. Especially, I really like the character Kay; both in this novel and the famous movie based on the novel, Kay, Michael's American girlfriend and later wife, is given a very strong characterization, making her one of the most memorable characters in the novel. Michael is notable as well, from his role as the timid and intelligent son, to his becoming skilled in the family business. Johnny Fontane's character was given an unexpected significance, and I liked it, very much. The characters' background were interesting, all of the characters were interesting. This characterization is one of the things making this book so excellent.

I have seen all three films of the Godfather Trilogy, and loved them (all three films are reviewed in my movie review blog). The entire novel is the basis of the first film of the trilogy. Some parts of the film had been confusing; the book helped me to understand all those confusing parts of the film.

Overall, The Godfather was a powerful and vivid read, a memorable, excellent reading experience. Excellently-written novel that I may reread someday.

5 out of 5!


Thursday, 2 May 2013

A Trip to the bookstore

My exams have just ended and I think I'm going to have a wonderful time with books, movies and more blogging. I visited a bookstore today, and I bought:


The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie

The Clocks by Agatha Christie

 Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

 I have become a fan of Agatha Christie ever since I read ''A Murder is Announced'' a month ago. So that explains the reason of buying so many Agatha Christie books!

By the way, this is my first post in May. I hope I'm going to have a wonderful time with books and reading this month. Happy reading, everybody! :)